Welcome to the Best Of Humboldt 2013. We've made some changes this year — and more are on the way for 2014.
In the past, the Journal's editorial department was solely in charge of coming up with questions to ask readers. This year the entire staff participated, plus we borrowed ideas from a few of our sister newspapers in the Association of Alternative Newsmedia (Seven Days in Vermont, News & Review in Chico). After paring down the overly long list, we still ended up with about 50 percent more questions. Nearly all ballots this year were submitted online, which required voters to log in to our new website with whatever name you call yourself. We also set a threshold of at least 15 answers per ballot to be counted.
Some questions (best bakery, pizza and top restaurant) drew way more votes than others. Some (best coffee house, tattoo artist) were closely disputed and the lead changed right up until deadline. Some questions ... well, drew a snore from readers (best nail artist) and may not be back next year.
We had a few lively discussions putting the ballot together. Should we just award Stars a permanent crown for serving us the best burgers year after year? Well, this year. But where will Surfside Burger Shack be next year? And we watched excitedly as Brio and Ramone's seesawed back and forth for best bakery. They almost ended in a tie, but guess who's No. 3 and 4? Loleta Bakery and Beck's, according to Journal readers.
I love the Best Of Humboldt because I love being reminded by readers of facts like these:
• The best eatery on a budget really is Japhy's.
• The best swimming hole is Swimmers Delight followed closely by "no telling, it's a secret" and "you have to be blindfolded, but it's near Bridgeville."
• The best weekend getaway is Trinidad — almost anywhere you can find a room — and The Benbow Inn, as always.
We want to hear from readers how to improve next year. Clearly we need to have separate questions for bakery as in "great-scone-with-my-coffee" and our daily loaf of bread. But how specific should we get on food? Best fish taco? Best Golden Dragon roll? What about best massage therapist? Best place to buy tires? Best brewery, best beer and best IPA?
What do you think, Journal readers? Let us know what questions we left off that you'd like to see next year. And let us know if you're up for a slightly longer ballot, or — "Enough, already!" Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meantime, enjoy the Best Of Humboldt 2013.